Thursday, 06 February 2014 21:52

Thy Kingdom Come

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We are presently studying, line by line, the Lord’s Prayer as given in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. This time we have a wonderful text and theme to reflect on, namely Jesus the Christ teaching us to pray: “Thy kingdom come.” We have thought about the great way we may begin prayer as Jesus makes known, addressing God saying: “Our Father Who art in heaven.” Then last time we studied the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy Name.” Now we get to think on the second petition and request to God: “Thy kingdom come.” Jesus the Christ teaching us to pray: “Thy kingdom come.”

Consider with me under this theme the following three points. 1. What a marvelous request this truly is 2. What a multi-dimensional or many-sided request this truly is 3. What a motivational request this really is too. Coming to our first point about how marvelous is this second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, can you think and say why this is the case? Consider here Jesus the Saviour instructing His disciples to pray this petition. What do you think Jesus would all have in mind with this petition: “Thy kingdom come”? Wouldn’t Jesus have before Him in view all the tremendous and vast plans of God in the whole of the redemption? Many are the books and articles, speeches and discussions, on the kingdom of God and what it all means and doesn’t mean. But Jesus as Son of God could know what God all intended with the coming of His kingdom! And Jesus is saying here: Pray that God’s kingdom come as the LORD Himself intends it to unfold and grow and fill the whole earth and universe! Pray, in other words, for the full and complete outworking of all God’s merciful, loving, amazing, perfect, most wonderful, and eternal kingdom plans. Pray that truly, and more and more, what all that the holy God of infinite wisdom, love and beauty, and peace and power, has designed from eternity comes to pass! Pray that we may see God’s kingdom coming and gaining foothold with more and more people among all nations. Can you imagine how excited Jesus must have been to instruct His disciples so to pray, saying: “Thy kingdom come”? Truthfully, we have no idea of what all God is pledging to do and will do in and with the final coming and eternal establishment of His kingdom. But we can know this much. It will be so grand and glorious, and vast and universal, and awe-inspiring and eternally thrilling, beyond measure! We read in Acts 1:3 that during the 40 days between His resurrection and ascension, Jesus was constantly busy “speaking [to His followers] of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Wouldn’t you too have loved to be part of that teaching? We have it now though in all the Bible including all the writings of the inspired apostles. This second petition is so marvelous because what is included in it all is endlessly delightful and astonishing, and God-glorifying and people-enriching,, and forever fulfilling and fruitful. Thinking of Jesus now as the exalted Saviour, don’t you think it most marvelous that as you and I live life’s brief journey here on earth, the Lord Jesus says we may and should pray among other things: “Thy kingdom come”? Who knows where that all may lead, and to what all that will lead to? It opens up fields and worlds of glory unendingly marvelous and marvelously unending and infinitely vast on every front! “Thy kingdom come.” Isn’t this second petition a marvelous request when you consider also what God is removing and renewing through the coming of His kingdom? Don’t we live in a fallen world where the devil and the curse of sin still have so much grip and domain on people and institutions and all of creation? While there is still so much that can be and is enjoyed in this fallen world yet surely it is true, as the news of every day tells us, what an evil world we live in and for how many isn’t life a vale of tears? The root problem of our sins and sinfulness is so deep and wide too that it affects and infects everyone and everything everywhere here and now living yet in this fallen world. But we know from Scripture that even on the day of man’s fall into sin as told in Genesis 3, God promised He would not let this world become the prey of Satan and the kingdom of darkness and destruction. So God foretold of the Messiah Saviour King Whom He would send, Who in the fullness of time would come. That Messiah Saviour is Jesus the Christ, and the kingdom of God would be established and gain worldwide and eternal dominion in and through His person and work as Saviour of sinners. All through history, with the gospel cause in both the Old and New Testament, that coming of God’s kingdom has been happening, ever since the day of man’s fall into sin. When Jesus came He also announced and proclaimed, as we can read for instance in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Interestingly, in the book of Daniel, chapter 2, even Nebuchadnezzar gets told that all the kingdoms of men will come crushing and crashing down. But the kingdom of God, as represented in that uncut stone that knocked down the image of the empires of the world and then filled the whole earth, was a prophecy itself of God’s kingdom coming and being triumphant over all in and through Jesus Christ the Lord! So this second petition is a marvelous request to pray, telling of great hope and promise for the future and for all people and for all the world, even for as many as will repent and believe the gospel. It is through Jesus alone and because of His perfect atoning work on behalf of sinners that you and I may pray also: “Thy kingdom come.” Through Jesus’ saving work, no sinner need perish in the kingdom of darkness and eternal destruction with Satan and his demons. But we need to be rescued from that awful judgment future we rightly deserve, left to ourselves, and instead by Jesus’ blood and righteousness be heirs of forgiveness of sin and everlasting righteousness and eternal life in glory. And so we will be citizens in God’s kingdom now and forevermore! Just reflecting on that, and what all God intends with the coming of His kingdom, will you too pray in holy, humble, and thankful enthusiasm: “Our Father Who art in heaven….Thy kingdom come”? Shouldn’t this be the fervent and repeated prayer of every true child of God on a daily basis even? To encourage further exactly this, let us move now to our second main point where we see this prayer Jesus the Christ teaches us to pray is not only so marvelous but also so multi-dimensional. This petition or request to God is many-sided really! It is something like when you google search a place on your computer then always there is that little circle with four arrows in it, inviting you to go left or right or up and down. How can we become specific in connection with the prayer: “Thy kingdom come”? To learn better what it really means and how multi-dimensional it actually is, Biblically speaking, we can be helped with the Heidelberg Catechism’s Bible-based teaching on this second petition. In explaining the second petition, the reformers wrote in the light of all God’s Word, when truly praying, “Thy kingdom come”, that means asking God: “Rule us so by Your Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to You; preserve and increase Your Church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against You, and also, all wicked counsels devised against Your holy Word; till the full perfection of Your kingdom take place, wherein You shall be all in all.” Will you notice with me from this faithful explanation at least four details showing how many-sided, multi-dimensional, the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer truly is? Clearly there is involved in it prayer personally, prayer in connection with God’s church, prayer in connection with the world around us, and prayer in view of the eternal world to come. So there is the personal aspect, a church aspect, a world aspect, and an eternal aspect involved in truly praying: “Thy kingdom come”. With this petition having personal direction, truly praying it we ask, as the Heidelberg Catechism also put it so well: “Rule us, so by Your Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to You.” With this petition, in other words, praying it as Jesus intended it, we are asking that God’s kingship and rule be established in our own hearts and lives, and that His salvation for sinners be also your salvation and His Word also your rule of life. The request is also that this become more and more so for daily still we have to fight against sin within us and around us, and this luring world is always there before us, and the devil is always there tempting and distracting us. Therefore the true believer prays: “Lord, let me be a true citizen of Your kingdom and establish Your rule in my life and in all Your people, that more and more we unquestionably and wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly, and gladly too, follow after You and Your Word and will.” The point now is when you are a true believer and you really pray “Thy kingdom come” that means you are praying: “God, please take control of my life completely; I desire no one other than You on the throne in my heart and life, and I would live under no rule but Your Word and will in all I think, say, or do.” Is that how you pray this second petition too? You agree, don’t you, if we say these words, “Thy kingdom come”, but will not acknowledge Jesus as our only Saviour and Lord and will not live by His Word above all and in and with all of life, then you and I are actually living a lie and taking God’s Name in vain, even in our prayers. Isn’t there every reason to pray earnestly in regards to our personal lives each and every day: “Our Father Who art in heaven…Thy kingdom come”? Together with this dimension is the next, namely, that truly praying, “Thy kingdom come” also means thinking beyond yourself to others and thinking especially also of the Christian church. The book of Acts brings out so clearly God’s kingdom was established throughout the earth by means of the Christian church. We can say God’s kingdom is broader and more than Christ’s church, and God’s kingdom and His church should be distinguished but they ought never to be separated. No, for it is by means of the Christian church and all her ministry of the gospel in word and deed that God’s kingdom is established and extended into all spheres of life and having impact throughout the whole world. As one put it: “In this prayer [Thy kingdom come] we also catch a vision of the church. For the church is called to play a central role in the coming of the kingdom. [The church] must proclaim the gospel of Christ’s [role and] rule in the lives of men and in the affairs of nations. It must train recruits for service in every branch of the kingdom army. It must mobilize [by means of the gospel message and the equipping of the saints] the power of the Christian community.” To pray “Thy kingdom come” in other words means you must also have a real care and interest for the Christian church and her ministry. Then you pray also, yes, “preserve and increase Your church” or another way of putting that is, “keep Your church strong, and add to it from all over, locally and abroad, O Lord, we pray.” The fact is, the kingdom of God won’t flourish and expand if the church falters and fails in her gospel ministry in word and deed. It is good to ask: “Do you have in mind not only the personal element but also this church element when praying “Thy kingdom come”? Anyone who cares not to be a faithful and committed member of the Christian church, and regularly involved in her worship and ministry in a local congregation, is living not in accord with the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer. If you and I won’t pray and work and give that the church may be strong and added to in our days, it is clear God’s kingdom is not something we are really praying for or wanting at all. But if you love also the church and say with the psalmist of Psalm 122, “And for the house of God the Lord, my care shall never cease”, that is in line with praying also the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer. We live in a time where all too often there is too little care and commitment for the Christian church at present in a faithful local congregation. The sad result of this trend in our times is that not only is the Christian church by and large weak but the cause of the kingdom of God is not prospering as it might and could and should. Sadly, even today, there is a growing movement that thinks God’s kingdom can better be established apart from the church or without the church. But that way of thinking is not in line with Scripture, especially considering the book of Acts and the New Testament letters, and it is not according to the program of Christ the Saviour Who works in and through His Church, also for the coming of His kingdom. We need a revival today of the petition “Thy kingdom come” praying it as Jesus also meant it and as the faithful Christians from the past understood and explained it, on the basis of God’s Word. In church and world history the most kingdom of God-focused people were also the most church faithful people. You can’t honestly have the one without the other. Will you pray in humble hearty appeal to God our Saviour, “Thy kingdom come”, thinking personally and in regards to Christ’s church, also yes, in reference to that church as represented in faithful local congregations in your area? Praying, “Thy kingdom come” involves also this next dimension, thinking of the whole world and looking to God Triune for the total defeat and downfall of Satan and of all that is contrary to and against God’s holy Word. Truly praying this second petition means having a burden and care for this whole lost world, and praying and caring that God Word and will becomes more and more recognized and followed, and that people and ways of rebellion be overcome or brought to justice. Truly praying the second petition means loving God’s Word and wanting all to know it and come under its good message and rule. Then you live also testifying and upholding ever and again to the special inspiration and holy unique authority of God’s holy Word, and the blessedness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as touching for good every detail and relationship and responsibility in life here in this world. You can’t truly pray “Thy kingdom come” and not care or be caring about this fallen world and so many people still in darkness and in the misery of sin and guilt. Truly praying this second petition includes having an evangelistic care for those around us, and aiming to be a light in the world as God gives you and me opportunity and enables us so to be and do. Is this what you and I are reflecting and promoting personally, and in our families, and in society, and in the church? Praying “Thy kingdom come” says the Catechism rightly involves also asking “Lord, destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against You; and also all wicked counsels devised against Your holy Word.” Do we have this holy burden too, also in reference to all the social evils and injustices in our society today? Is this also your prayer and mine, dear friends, living in our days of so much apostasy and evil, “Thy kingdom come”, thinking in terms of self, and of the church, and of the world around us? What reasons to pray fervently “Thy kingdom come” not only thinking personally, and thinking communally of Christ’s church, and thinking of the world around us and all the sinful and devilish, blind opposition against the gospel truth but also thinking eternally, yes, that dimension too. This petition truly prayed certainly should always have in view also the second coming of Christ when God’s kingdom will come into its final and eternal glory. “Thy kingdom come” is a prayer that, as Christ meant it, refers also to its ultimate fulfillment when Christ returns on the clouds of heaven and is declared before all King of kings, and Lord of lords. In that final day then all the believers will be brought into the eternal kingdom of God in the new heavens and earth, and all the wicked and unbelieving forever cast away in the place outside the kingdom, in hell, that place of outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth forever and ever. Praying “Thy kingdom come” means also, as the Catechism explains on the basis of Scripture, Grant soon Lord, “that the full perfection of Your kingdom take place, wherein You shall be all in all.” Are you and I keeping this always in mind as we might and should? God’s Word foretells and Christ’s work guarantees and the Spirit pledges the final glorious eternal realm of God’s kingdom for all true believers. This is the glorious prospect which may be the sure hope of those who believe by God’s grace. You don’t want to be found without oil in your lamps in that great day of the Lord. So again with this second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the gospel invitation is extended to anyone not yet saved. The gracious sincere gospel call is to come to Christ the Saviour while He freely offers pardon and peace and eternal life to all who repent of sin and trust and follow Him. Even as a hearer of the preached Word today, will you listen to the gospel tidings that with Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour, is salvation to be found even for the worst of sinners who comes to Him, pleading His mercy and grace? The blood of Jesus Christ, as God’s people joyfully know from God’s Word and in their life, cleanses us from all sin. Will you be someone who just will not call on Christ while it is yet the day of grace? Let it not be so, for then you will perish in your sins and while God’s kingdom is established you will be left outside of it and be cast into hell. Oh, seek the Lord then while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near! Can we even truthfully pray this petition as the Lord Jesus meant it without keeping in mind all these dimensions to this petition? Hardly so, as God’s people know! So I ask again: ‘Will you pray the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the way that has been explained based on God’s Word, Thy kingdom come oh Lord? “That is, rule us so by Your Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more to You, preserve and increase Your church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against You; and also, all wicked counsels devised against Your holy Word; till the full perfection of Your kingdom take place; wherein You shall be all in all!”’ In further promotion of so praying in spirit and truth before God Triune think with me yet on our third main point, namely, how motivating also this prayer is when prayed as God the Saviour intended it. Consider here with me how God Triune surely loves to answer this prayer of His people! Indeed, how all through history, both in Old and New Testament times and in all the time between Christ’s first and second coming, this is what God Triune is preoccupied with, namely, the coming of His kingdom! Jesus, Who taught His disciples to pray also this petition, would have us pray it in faith and trust that what we pray for, God will also accomplish. The gospel truth is, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus sinners are not only saved from the guilt of sin but are led to become more and more Christ-like too by God’s Word and Spirit in them and with them, convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. And Christ’s Church, regardless of all things, is yet by God’s sovereign grace and power being preserved and added to day by day, all around the world still, including where you live as well. And the devil and his plots and schemes, though they may seem ever so successful sometimes, also in our times, yet we know the devil is fighting a losing battle, a battle already won and determined with Jesus’ atoning death on the cross and His victorious resurrection from the grave. As one rightly put it: “Every conspiracy that man raises up against God is, in the end, failure.” This is the gospel truth which the whole Bible tells over and over again and all world history proves, time and again. Indeed, and every year we come closer and closer to the time when soon, suddenly and for sure, the trumpet will sound and the King of kings will return on the clouds of heaven. As Jesus Himself promised, He will return in infinite splendor and majesty and faithfulness to establish His eternal kingdom. In that day all the wicked and unbelieving will be banished forever, and the new world order will begin and never end in a whole renewed universe. It will all be glorious and grand beyond words for all God’s people to enjoy and praise God Triune in forever and ever, in body and soul, in thought, word, and deed! And when we truly pray this second petition, ever looking to Jesus the Saviour for its ongoing and ultimate fulfillment as God planned from eternity to eternity, won’t that and shouldn’t that also motivate you and myself in God’s ways in spirit and truth? Motivate us personally, and in church life, and in care for this fallen needy world, and in view of Christ’s coming again, ever to seek and serve the Lord in accordance with all His holy Word and will? God’s kingdom is coming as He promised. Are you living in such a way that it is evident by God’s grace you truly pray also this second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come”? Does your life demonstrate you earnestly desire this too, the coming of God’s kingdom in all it fullness and glory? How many are hypocrites with praying the Lord’s Prayer or thoughtless godless repeaters of the petitions only but without meaning a word of what they say? What about you in this regard, dear friends? , “Thy kingdom come” is, as we have seen, such a marvelous prayer, and so multi-dimensional, and so motivating. In view of this all, do you see too, what reasons to ask as Jesus’ disciples did: “Lord, teach us to pray”? Will you too be taught from this message, based on God’s Word, truly to pray, “Thy kingdom come”? Amen. Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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